Note: the month of Aasaarh typically takes place mid-June through mid-July on the Gregorian Calendar.
Words from the Guru
The month of Aasaarh seems burning hot, to those who are not close to their Husband Lord.
They have forsaken God the Primal Being, the Life of the World, and they have come to rely upon mere mortals.
In the love of duality, the soul-bride is ruined; around her neck she wears the noose of Death.
As you plant, so shall you harvest; your destiny is recorded on your forehead.
The life-night passes away, and in the end, one comes to regret and repent, and then depart with no hope at all.
Those who meet with the Holy Saints are liberated in the Court of the Lord.
Show Your Mercy to me, O God; I am thirsty for the Blessed Vision of Your Darshan.
Without You, God, there is no other at all. This is Nanak’s humble prayer.
The month of Aasaarh is pleasant, when the Feet of the Lord abide in the mind. || 5 ||
The month of Aasaarh is good; the sun blazes in the sky.
The earth suffers in pain, parched and roasted in the fire.
The fire dries up the moisture, and she dies in agony. But even then, the sun does not grow tired.
His chariot moves on, and the soul-bride seeks shade; the crickets are chirping in the forest.
She ties up her bundle of faults and demerits, and suffers in the world hereafter. But dwelling on the True Lord, she finds peace.
O Nanak, I have given this mind to Him; death and life rest with God. || 8 ||
Listen to the Month of Aasaarh in English by Don Cooper (Bara Maha Musical English Translation)
About the Bara Maha
“The twelve months, the seasons, the weeks, the days, the hours, the minutes and the seconds are all sublime, when the True Lord comes and meets her with natural ease.
God, my Beloved, has met me, and my affairs are all resolved. The Creator Lord knows all ways and means.”
Bara Maha is a form of folk poetry in which the emotions and yearnings of the human heart are expressed in terms of the changing moods of nature over the twelve months of the year. In this form of poetry, the mood of nature in each particular month (of the Indian calendar) depicts the inner agony of the human heart which in most cases is described as a woman separated from her spouse or lover. In other words, the separated woman finds her own agony reflected in the different faces of nature.
The tradition of Bara Maha poetry is traceable to classical epochs. In Sanskrit, the Bara Maha had the form of “shad ritu varnan,” i.e. description of the six seasons (shad = six; ritu = season; varnan = description), the most well known example being Kalidasa’s Ritu Sanhar.
The mode was commonly employed to depict the moods of the love stricken woman in separation, and it became an established vogue in medieval Indian poetry. Modern languages of northern India claim several distinguished models.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Barah Maha in the measure Tukhari is not only the oldest composition belonging to this genre but also the first in which the theme of love poetry has been transformed into that of spiritual import. He made the human soul the protagonist which suffers in the cesspool of transmigration as a result of its separation from the Supreme Soul. This is followed by Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s Barah Maha.
Guru Nanak’s Bara Maha or “twelve months” composition in Raga Tukhari in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib (pages 1107 to 1110,) stands out in Sikh literature for its poetic splendor and philosophical import . . . Herein, time and space universal as well as particular have been richly fused in the person of a young bride ardently searching for her Divine Bridegroom through the cameos of the changing reality of the twelve months.
It is Guru Arjan’s calendar poem in the measure Majh included in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib (pages 133 to 136). The bani was composed at the behest of Sikh Sangat when they approached Guru Arjan and requested that Guru Nanak Sahib’s composition mentioned below in Tukhri raag is very difficult for them to understand. The opening verse of the composition presents the binary theme of the poem: the factual situation of the human soul’s separation from the Divine Soul and its quest for union with Him.
Later some Sufi poets such as Ali Haider, Bulleh Shah, Hasham, and Shah Murad also wrote bara mahas.
Listen to the Bara Maha
Bara Maha – Professor Satnam Singh Sethi: